Franklin's Ground Squirrel
(Spermophilus franklinii)

Interesting facts:
Franklin's ground squirrels hibernate about 7 months of the year (September through February). During the other 5 months, they spend 2/3 of their time in their burrows. This means they could spend less than 10 per cent of their life above ground.

Franklin's ground squirrel is a large squirrel with dark grayish-brown fur mixed with buff. The ears are rounded and set low on the long narrow head. The tail is only about half as long as the body. They summer molt (shedding of fur) every June. These squirrels make chirping and whistling sounds.

Habitat and behavior:
Franklin's ground squirrels usually live in grass that is taller than lawn grass but short enough to see over when they stand on their hind feet. Railroad beds overgrown with weeds are good places for them to dig their burrows. They also like woody areas.

Ground squirrels build burrow systems that include tunnels about 5 inches in diameter and rooms 15-20 inches below the surface for nests and food storage.

Franklin's ground squirrels eat mostly plant material such as berries and clover. They also eat carrion (dead animals), insects, bird eggs, and small ground birds.

Distribution and status:
Franklin's ground squirrels are rare in Illinois because of the disappearance of the prairie.